Say I play the chords

Dm C A#

How would you describe the chord progression? There seems to be a relationship between Dm and A# but I don't understand how to describe it. They aren't a perfect 5th apart. How can I assign these chords their proper roman numerals?


It's the literally the same method as before. You are in the key of D minor. The A# chord is actually a Bb. They are enharmoniclly equivalent, but it is easier to see how it fits in the key.

From D to Bb is a minor 6th and from D to C is a minor 7th and the chords fit with how chords are built in a minor key.

So the progression in i, VII, VI in D minor.

  • so is it the same thing to say D to A# is an augmented 5th?
    – Norse
    Dec 30 '14 at 20:16
  • 2
    @Norse D to A# is an Augmented 5th. A# and Bb are enharmonicly equivalent. D to Bb is a minor 6th. The intervals are technically not the same as an augnemted 5th functions differently then a minor 6th, but in this case it is ok to say they are the same.
    – Dom
    Dec 30 '14 at 20:20
  • 1
    Yes, A♯ is an augmented 5th in D minor, but roman numeral analysis is based on diatonic chords, and the augmented 5th is non-diatonic. For functional harmony, it makes more sense to analyze it as a B♭ chord. Dec 30 '14 at 20:21

To add to Dom's answer, I believe that the progression was miswritten. Bb really should have been placed there (at least if these three chords are isolated in their own progression and not surrounded by other distant chords). Bb major fits perfectly in the key of D minor; A#, while having the same pitch, really doesn't fit, unless it was going to do something to modulate away, like leading to D# (but that opens up a whole new can of worms ;) ).

BTW, imagine this as the song "Stray Cat Strut." These chords would make a nice progression and would clarify to you why Bb is the better-named chord (as opposed to A#):

i VII VI V7 (which if put in D minor would be) Dm C Bb A7

Dm C A# A7 ... would look strange, wouldn't it, as you're skipping any B in between C and A!

  • I don't care if it means i have a tone-deaf imaginary version of perfect pitch, but I heard this as the breakdown sequence from the end of Stairway to Heaven (yes, I realize the real one is a perfect fourth lower) :P Jan 1 '15 at 20:32
  • Good point Darren!
    – Mark
    Jan 2 '15 at 23:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.